Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When I have spent 3 hours having hair and make up done "effortlessly" for an event... or pink,bright eyed and sweaty after ballet class.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
slim,fit,un-self -conscious beautiful posture and movement.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire effortless "natural" beauty that is seldom effortless. Also eccentric risk takers like a 6' woman in stilletto heels or an elderly woman adapting on trend accessories.
4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?
When I started performing on stage as an adolescent and learning the art of stage make up and costuming...I loved the transformations,and carried it over into my real life.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
I buy things at the end of the season for the next year...not always great if your weight fluctuates. I buy ridiculous things on sale like expensive uncomfortable shoes that I will hardly wear but justify the purchase because it was more than half off.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
I have been known to build an outfit around a pair of shoes or accessories.
I tend to go monochromatic to add height,even though it is very austere.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
Sitting around with earthy rural women playing music, and cooking ,and dog training. Not one had a speck of make up, hair color or fuss, and they wore the same comfortable shoes and clothes all weekend. Even there I had to sneak on some mascara and concealer and wear well fitted jeans and cute boots. What is wrong with me?! How does one become so free without moving to a utopian wilderness? Their beauty was completely in their balance of spirit,mind,body.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
I have high standards for all ,and have learned to lighten up and prioritize as needed for the day since being stricken with a progressive chronic illness.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
shoes...far too many...because I can...because they always fit...because they can completely change an outfit...and I don't like them any more when they have any scuffs or wear that can't be perfected.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
Yes, I gift my immediate family and close friends and they seem to enjoy wearing it.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Re-runs from my youth...any thing too short,too tight,too extreme for a second time around.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My mother was 50-100 pounds over weight all her adult life,wore no make up,and dressed accordingly. Unlike my earthy rural-friends who are comfortable and happy with their "natural" look,my mother was mentally ill,hopeless,and miserable. I do think my determination to be nothing like her has driven me all my life.
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
I think my urban friends and I have similar tastes...my daughter's take on trends always interest me...but need adjusting for age etc.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
After giving birth and having a drastically different body for many months...it was the first time I felt like I needed to be covered up and invisible. I came back from the baggy sweats to a more modest version of my pre-motherhood self.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
I don't wear fur or things knowingly manufactured in sweatshop conditions. Hypocrisy alert: I still wear leather shoes.
16. Please describe your body.
I am pettite, currently withering from illness,formerly a muscular,strong,flexible,graceful competitive athlete and expressive dancer.I am trying to accept and take care of it/live in it as best I can.
17. Please describe your mind.
18. Please describe your emotions.
They run deeply and intensely, be it joy or sorrow.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
Just returned from swimming, so sunscreen,linen sun cover up,damp naturally drying hair.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
It suits the activity.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
My daughters and best friend.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
I am more moderate at work,or attending events like weddings,funerals,parent/teacher meetings...institutions teach us to be homogenous whether we are adolescents or grown women.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
Taste probably applies to dressing appropriately for the occasion,the body that you have,within the boundaries of whatever is current..."good" taste can be boring when it is the taste of dominant mass culture...style is more about making it your own,being a little daring,quirky, and confident in your own skin. I think the fact that I have been known to recycle and wear things I have owned for 20 years and they still get compliments from a wide variety of people speaks to some level of taste and style.
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
A pair of Jimmy Choo stiletto heels that were so dangerous to navigate in they were only worn once by me...not a complete waste,my teen ager adopted them.
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Pretend you are packing for a 2 week trip with only a carry on bag. Perfectly fitted black pants,jeans, a few day to night tops,a little black dress,a few good accessories and you can eliminate the rest of your closet...most of us have way too much stuff.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
The way I cook/present food, garden,arrange art work,etc. I appreciate beauty in many forms.
27. Can you recall some times when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?
I used to attend frequent auditions, and in my later work did a lot of public speaking...of course one is being judged in those situations,so dress and preparation matters .
28. Would you say you “know what you like” in the area of fashion and clothing? If so, do you also know what you like in other areas of life, that is, are you generally good at discernment? Can you say where your discernment comes from, if you have it? Or if you don’t have it, why or why not?
From a very young age I had strong preferences about what I wore,ate,read,watched,etc.I think I needed a sense of control because my mother was so out of control. It was a way of developing boundaries and defining my separate self. Some preferences come from the inside out,who knows why, others perhaps acquired from people I looked up to who mentored me.
29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?
Neither parent had any interest in clothing or style. I wore what other children wore,and as a teen ager very much wanted to just fit in. My sister and I would wash clothing out in the sink because our mother seldom did laundry,she would buy us things but had no interest in it or maintaining the home or belongings.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I have done it all,always wore makeup from adolescence on,even to the gym or grocery store.(have gotten better about not needing to do that with age.) I have naturally great hair so a good cut is all it needs most of the time. Dressing in clothes that are well fitted yet comfortable and right for the occasion usually is enough for me.
31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?
Comfortable does not mean being a slob,it means expressing your self with clothing that fits your body and the occasion,and your own taste. Most people feel confident with those circumstances. I admire confidence that is a step out side that box...an unexpected,playful,or whimsical gesture with shape,color,accessory,etc.
32. If dressing were the only thing you did, and you were considered an expert and asked to explain your style philosophy, what would you say?
You need very little,edit,edit,edit. Great quality basics,not quantity,and whatever is near and dear to your heart,be it your recycled treasures, or a fun trendy splash of something.
33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?
The natural world,sunlight through spider webs,waves breaking over rocks,animals in their natural habitat,The un-natural world;Mozart, art deco architecture,Balanchine choreography.
Random acts of love and kindness.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
Greed,excess, close minded hatefuless...republicans.
35. Are you generally a good judge of whether what you buy will end up being worn? Have you figured out how to know in advance?
Yes...try it on...ask your self is it comfortable,does it go with other things ,can it be tailored(I'm short) and not lose it's intended shape or details,would you buy it if it were not on sale?
36. When you look at yourself before going out, and you are trying to see yourself from the outside, can you describe a bit about what this “other person” is like? What do they like, dislike, what sorts of judgments do they have? Is this “outer eye” based on someone you know or once knew?
Hmmm...sometimes the old ballet master voice...judging weight,posture, and aesthetic detail no one else on earth is likely to notice.
37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?
I no longer dress for work,I dress for physical therapy,doctor appointments,and running errands and completing tasks without falling down most days.
This is a considerable change from my career days.
38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?
I always like to wear something special that I really love,whether it is my grandmother's ring,a scarf from my best friend, my favorite pair of boots,even if it is being worn with utilitarian yoga clothes or jeans. Today I have little reason to dress to impress, I have become a slave to comfort and function.
39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?
Dressing "up" has always been an opportunity to engage imagination and create a divine visual character...my favorite dress up event of the year is the ballet gala on the formal side,or a costume event like a theme party or Carnival...
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
Black jeans,black well fitted shirt or knit,and interesting accessories.
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
The gift of my illness is to find I am "me" whether I have the same physical attributes I strived for. The ego and spirit has new tasks and challenges at this stage...it benefits me to stay open minded and flexible in ways that 3 years ago I would say would not have been "me"
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I grew up among mostly white working class/middle class small town people,and the emphasis was on practicality and conformity...I loved escaping to the big city as a young dancer and was thrilled by the diversity and choices.
43. Do you remember a time in your life when you dressed quite differently from how you do now? Can you describe it and what it was all about for you?
From the trendy body baring follies of youth,to the responsibilities of running a business and trying to look professional but not boring is quite a range. I think the right costume for the right time and place is what it is all about.
44. What sorts of things do you do, clothing, make-up or hair-wise, to feel professional?
I tone it down.
45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?
I never gave up my impractical shoes.
46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?
47. Are there ways in which you conform to or rebel against these uniforms?
When I danced we were required to wear the same black leotard,pink tights,etc. and I used to chop mine up and customize the line of the back,neck,etc.
48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?
49. What is an archetypal outfit for you; one that you could have happily worn at any point in your life? What do you like about it?
Jeans,a black cashmere pullover,great boots.
Little black dress,fierce high heels,and some unique or quirky accessory.
50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?
No. Men's clothing and accessories are so boring. I do envy that they can be "dressed up" but their feet are always comfortable and they can hide their fat under a jacket.
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
Paris in the 1920's
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
angles and lighting matter
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
Reality of my situation is showing
54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?
I love old films when people still "dressed" for ordinary occasions, but could not imagine having to maintain that!
55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?
I have dreamed that I could have anything I wanted,but was not allowed to wear any of it. I have dreamed that I went on stage in the wrong costume. Anxiety in these dreams.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
The financial district look.
57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?
I have usually been able to wear what I like body wise.
58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?
Not at this stage of life
59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?
Be true to your self in context of the time and place.
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
A little goes a long way,and yes I wear it.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
I need to exercise every day,shower,and put on a moderate amount makeup. Clothes need to be clean,fit,and work for the occasion.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
63. Is there a certain look you feel you’re expected to like that you have absolutely no interest in? What is it? Why aren’t you interested?
I feel that after a certain age you are steered towards more conventional gear..I don't want to dress like a teen but I'm not ready for old lady land.
64. Can you describe in a basic way what you own, clothing and jewelry-wise?
I have pared down and have distilled a good quality minimalist clothing with interesting accessories. A few nice pieces of jewelry that I wear often,a lot of whimsical mostly inexpensive hand made pieces.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
My wedding ring, perfect versatile Zac Posen LBD,and my favorite jeans.
66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?
A dress designed for me by a friend who died of AIDS. It is beautifully made and designed for the dancer I was in that era,not for now. It is a memory of Roberto's creativity and vision and generosity. I could not have afforded it and he gifted it to me.
67. Looking back at all your purchases over the past five to fifteen years, can you generalize about what sorts of things were the most valuable to buy?
Things that are versatile that can be worn for a variety of events. I have a 3,000 dollar evening dress that was worn twice,and a 300 dollar dress that has been worn dozens of times and ways.
68. Is there an item of clothing that you once owned, but no longer own, and still think about or wish you had back? What was it, what happened to it, and why do you want it back?
A vintage kimono that finally wore out...beautiful fabric and embroidery that would cost a lot if I could find something similar.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
white linen shift for summer,black jeans and black cashmere sweater for winter.
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
A black blazer from Saks...I wore it until it looked worn which took a good 10 years.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
Buying less,but what you love.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
A high heel that feels as good as it looks
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
closet is well organized,drawers are messy.
75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?
I love all the hand made jewelry my artistic friends make for me, and the times when I was young and could not afford to buy something when friends loaned or gifted things to me...great friends.
76. Did you ever buy an article of clothing without giving it much thought, only to have it prove much more valuable as time went on? What was the item and what happened?
I gave many luxurious shoes that I can't walk in any more to my daughter, and the resale value of some of them was astounding. Other wise my little cream colored hemp sun dress that I bought for 50 dollars in 1996 is still going strong after 18 Summers and hundreds of washings!
77. How and when do you shop for clothes?
Mostly in stores during sales,since I have been ill I have done some shopping on line.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?
It was vital when I worked and socialized daily...amazing how little all that matters when your health is gone.
80. How does money fit into all this?
As a young person I managed to look good on a small budget. I had the luxury of getting exactly what I wanted later in life,but did I really look any better?!
81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
lip gloss,mascara,liner,neutral shadow palette,sun protective moisturizer/concealer.
good carry-all bag
82. Did anyone ever say anything to you that made you see yourself differently, on a physical and especially sartorial level?
I didn't know or appreciate how naturally good looking I was until adolescence when I started to be cast in a lot of roles...it was very mind blowing to have others reinforce that my appearance and talent had power. It is also mind blowing when one begins to lose that power.
83. Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?
I was about 4(some time before kindergarten) and my mother made me wear really ugly plaid corduroy pants and generic buster brown shirt and oxfords that she picked out...i protested mightily that they were "boy" clothes. I cut holes in the pants so I wouldn't have to wear them again and was punished.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
1957 San Diego Ca. but grew up in upstate New York. Currently live in the San Francisco bay area.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
I came from a middle class white household,but was disadvantaged because of my mother's severe mental illness...I had to figure out most things my self. As a young adult I was quite poor as a dancer,but it did not matter,I loved my life.I married into the top 10% in my 30's,so you might say I have experienced the spectrum economically and culturally.
What kind of work do you do?
I was a dancer,dance teacher,and "retired" to direct non profit programs and raise children.
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
Married,2 now adult daughters.no grands.
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
As a kid in a dysfunctional home,clothes helped me go out into the world and look "normal" and fit in,as an artist clothing became more about personal expression,as a business professional back to "fitting in",as a person retiring early because of illness I am back to my liberated bohemian roots...it is the cycle of life in a superficial way.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
It was much longer than expected!
outwardly fashions change,but be true to your inner core spirit...it is what is left when all is said and done.